Category Archives:Whisky for Girls

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Sep. 11.

Some Introductory Drams….

INTRODUCTORY DRAMS ~ Well, basically, ALL OF THEM!!

However, Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) were asked to make a list of drams which may temp a person who is unfamiliar with a dram into partaking……. so here goes…

1: Islay Barley 2009 from Bruichladdich ~ Barley from Claggan, Cruach, Island & Mulindry Farms make this dram.

Sparkling gold, only been in a Bourbon casks, which means you think of vanilla, honey and toffee notes. But also, from the Bruichladdich character you get a creaminess in the feel of the liquid in the mouth. It’s musty, dusty – wet barley smell – not cereal, but fresh, wet barley. Hint of ozone, sea, warm yet ethereal. Mushrooms, sunny, honey, alive, zesty – yet lazy. Not a sharp zing of a dram. Lovely lingering feeling in the chest. A well balanced whisky. £45 approx.

2: Bunnahabhain 18 YO ~ Totally different whisky to Bruichladdich. Again upeated whisky, but sticky, rich, thick, raisins, honey, nuts, sweet, beautiful. Like the nicest Christmas cake you have ever tasted, in liquid form. The Bunnahabhain 12 YO is nice too, but it has a slight edge. The 18 is like Mother’s milk! It will curl over your tongue by itself. £70 approx.

3: Laphroaig Select ~ This dram was made as an introductory level whisky to Laphroaig. And it works perfectly. It works as a lovely dram in itself. It is not like a watered down version of Laphroaig, it is like Laphroaig’s perfect wee cousin. So you have the feeling of Laphroaig – the peat, the ozone, the sweetness, the golden flicks, but you won’t feel overwhelmed with Laphroaig strength of character. This is bourbon based again, so this is peat and vanilla and toffee and honey. Where as the Bruichladdich has no peat, and the Bunnahabhain is very sherry influenced. About £34

4: Ardbeg Dark Cove ~ A lovely fashionable dram. This is peated and dark sherry influenced. So think of sweet & bitter dark chocolate with a smokey influence. This dram is heavier in a way than the Laphroaig Select. But, not as richly heavy in the mouth as the Bunnahabhain. About £100.

5: Leaving Islay you could try Wolfburn, from the very North of Scotland ~ from where you get the ferry to Orkney, near Thurso. This is a lovely dram ~ clean, fresh, sparkling, apricots, green bushes. An open whisky, reminds me of sweeties – cider apples, young, fresh, sappy, milky, lovely mouthfeel. Some of this dram has been stored in casks which previously held the Laphroaig whisky, so there is a hint of the peat from our dram.   They now have a new bottling out called Aurora which you could try and get a hold of.

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  Trying a dram for the first time, remember to approach it slowly. Look at it, appreciate the colour, see if it looks oily or dry in the glass. Is it gold or reddish in colour?  If it is pale gold it is probably bourbon based ~ this just means the spirit is aged in casks that previously held bourbon. If it is reddish it probably has been sleeping for a while, in casks that previously held sherry .

Smell the top notes coming off your whisky as you raise it to your lips. Smell with your lips shut, then open your mouth as you smell again. Think about walking down a street with all the different shops ~ bakers, flower shop, fruit shop, pastry shop, leather shoe shop… imagine all the smells you would get from each shop. Then see if you can find them in your glass. Go on a journey. Use your imagination. Only after nosing your dram will you take a good sip. Roll it back along your tongue and swish it around to get the most out of the flavours. Hold the dram in your mouth for a second for each year old the dram is before you swallow (roughly!) Then swallow.

Feel the dram flow down your throat and into your chest. Enjoy everything about this experience!

Slàinte!

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In truth EVERY dram is an introductory dram… it just depends on your preference for certain flavours – your preferred FLAVOUR PROFILE… in whisky parlance.   If you like the look of any bottle of single malt you see, just order yourself a dram. And most importantly, this is a hobby – like fiddle playing – that requires LOTS OF PRACTISE! (luckily….)

Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Jun. 03.

FEIS ILE 2015

Feis Ile agus Dhiura 2015 ~the busiest we have seen yet!  We had extra open days & nights and millions of events ~ 

Friday ~ SMWS Open Day at Islay House ~ with two new Festival bottles……. one from SMWS and one from Islay House 

SMWS Feis Ile 2015

 And the first time meeting a great gang of Whisky Girls from all over the world!

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 Next up, Saturday ~ Lagavulin Day

With the Festival bottle put up on German ebay as soon as money changed hands in Islay ~ and the bottle sold out by Tuesday……..  German ebay ~ the life of high finance on Islay….

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Well, Sunday is just mental ~ It’s Bruichladdich Day!

‘The Boss’ hosts his last Master Class for 500 people (but, let’s hope we see him guest hosting tastings in the future…) ~ and some of the Whisky Girls Gang get our photo taken with him

Bruichladdich McEwanMonday is Caol Ila Day ~ weather is not that great, some people take great photos though, and plenty of great whisky is drunk…..

Festival 2015 0Tuesday is Laphroaig Day ~ weather doubtful ~ 200 Anniversary Birthday cake? splendid ~ secret still in the woods? ~ even MORE splendid!

And at night we had a great #whiskyfabric gathering with more bottles and people than you could shake a stick at…

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Wednesday was Bowmore Day ~ and the rain poured from the Heavens ~ but, then so did the whisky! So, I don’t think people minded too much…. 

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and Lucci at Bowmore Hotel stocked up on his festival bottles for us all….

2015 Festival Bottles

Thursday is Kilchoman & Jura Day ~ Kilchoman celebrated their 10 Year Anniversary ~ their first spirit came through on 14 December 2005, but the Visitor Centre was open earlier in that year. Richard Paterson represented Jura well ~ as he always does; with his wit and his cigars and his lovely drams….

Festival 2015 6Festival 2015 18Festival 2015 2Friday is Bunnahabhain Day ~ lovely drams, great music, good craic…..

I arrive just as Islay Bart was leaving…. I told him it was nothing personal…..!

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Saturday was Ardbeg Day ~ 200 Anniversary ~ lots going on ~ lovely drams, Arbroath Smokies, people from the future, ice bars, tract Tours and drams from probably the most expensive bottle of the Feis ~ 1815 Ardbeg, a snip at £3,000 ~ Bill only bought two…. and Bino only bought three….!! 

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Slàinte!

Thank you to everyone I met who made the week so fantastic. Great new friends and great old friends. We will see you again next year ~ if not before.

And until we meet again ~ 

CelticUBlessingU3A2

Thank you to anyone whose photos are here.  I couldn’t find exactly who took which pic, so please accept my inclusive thanks if you recognise your own.

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Nov. 12.

WHISKY IS LIQUID MUSIC

Malt is MusicBarenboim

 Listening to  recordings of  Daniel Barenboim, the Argentine born, Israeli pianist and conductor giving the Reith Lectures in 2006, I was reminded of how classical music and whisky resemble one another, both in their construction and in our relationship with, and to, each.

 Whisky and music both have notes ~ whisky has flavour notes and music has sounds notes, and both are experienced over an organised period of time.

 Both experiences involve the active participation of the ‘consumer’ ~  absorbing  music into ones body as sound vibrations penetrate the ear, and  absorbing whisky into the body as  tiny vibrating particles of matter ~ liquid molecules,  penetrate the mouth and aroma compounds penetrate the nose.

 Both experiences are extremely subjective as we bring our personal associations to each. We experience the true substance and simultaneously we experience our subjective experience of it.

 Both have past, present and future having being build on what went before, engaging with what just precedes the experience. In music it can be the silence before the first note and with whisky it can be the very air around one ~ whither inside or out. Both experiences are built on the skills and experiences of the past ~ building up the physical quality of the musical instrument, building up the quality of the fermentation and so on, learning from experience how to improve.

 Both experiences are vertical as well as horizontal as both build on the memory of what has gone before, ones association with  piece of music or a dram. Where one heard the music, where one tasted the whisky.  Both evoke memory. Both  stimulate emotion. And,  this is an interesting point ~ can whisky and music evoke emotion? Or do they stimulate latent emotion we already have?

 Both classical music and malt whisky used to be just ‘part of life’ and  now are regarded as ‘experiences’ ~  that mainly only the monied can afford.

 Ones enjoyment and appreciation of both whisky and music grow in relation to the more one knows about them. For example, having tried many whiskies and being aware of the ‘journey’ of the dram, one is more able to separate ones sensations upon drinking the whisky and therefore be aware of the physical construct of the dram. One can comprehend the experience of the dram in a  way that is already familiar.  It is the same with music. If one understands or knows the construction of the piece of music or is familiar with a style of music, one has greater awareness and is better able to ‘map’ ones experience  and hopefully relate more fully to it.

 Melody and harmony in music create a specific kind of tension. This can be found in the creation of whisky ~ there must be a balance between the notes, strengths and power of the new make spirit with the maturation. The tensions when balanced are what create a wonderful dram, and a wonderful experience of music. The magic of the universe is such, that,  if the notes and movements are right, the energy flows naturally and something greater than the sum of it’s parts is birthed.

 Mr Barenboim says the lesson to take from music is that life must combine transparency, power and strength.  All notes must be played at their power, but to form a great chord sound the various players must be heard together,  in a dynamic tension that holds all sounds as equal. This creates great strength of sound. If this does not occur, you have great power from one section  overwhelming another so there is no tension, and therefore no strength. Music will be totally uninteresting without this ~  it is the same with whisky. If the notes of peat, or cereal or vanillin are too powerful and overwhelm the other flavour notes, you have a heavy, flat whisky . If it does not allow the other notes to be heard it has no strength, only power ~ and this does not express the totality of of a great whisky.

 Music shows the inevitable flow of life, as does whisky, both are experienced in a linear fashion albeit both vertically and horizontally.  The experience of both is constant change. One cannot hold the sound or the taste any longer than it is meant to be held. This is like life ~ no matter how we wish for something to last longer or to hurry and pass, it will take as long as it takes!

 Slainte!

And thank you to Daniel Barenboim for sharing his wisdom in the great Reith Lectures.

Bruichladdich Nostalgia BAROLO 017

 

 

 

 

 

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Nov. 01.

First Whisky & Rum Festival in Graz, Austria

Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) island whisky tasting ~ 

On Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 October 2013, Graz city in Austria was host to the first Whisky & Rum Festival. Presented by Dr. Bottle Scaria with assistance from The Islay Whisky Chapter Austria and various esteemed organisations.

Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) were invited to host a Whisky Tasting of Islay/island malts. Ostensibly the event was for women, but  guys were welcome, too!

How cool is this!!Getting ready to DRAM with Whisky for Girls (& Guys!0Islay Whisky Chapter & WfG

We had a selection of 6 drams ~

In order of tasting ~

KILCHOMAN 100 % ISLAY 3 rd edition ~ 50% abv. Vatting of 4 & 5 yo, 20-25 ppm, light, citrus with long peaty finish. Matured in Bourbon barrels. Fresh, young, strong, well balanced open dram. Peat finish carries the freshness.

Thanks to Arran Distillery for the ARRAN 10 yo ~ 46% abv, unpeated, citrus notes ~ orange, cinnamon, peppery sparkle. The water for the distillery comes through red granite.  This is a smooth, fluffy mouthfeel with light, sparkly kick.  Nice orange oiliness and a dryness give this dram a balance with the lightness.

BUNNAHABHAIN 18 yo ~ 46.3% abv, A voluptuous dram.  Rich, silky, sweet honied dram. Sweetly nutty, slight salt tang, sherry notes of raisins, then toffee, a bit spicey and dryly woody with a sweet sherry finish. A lovely warm rolling dram.

ARBEG CORRYVRECKAN ~ 57.1% abv. 50 ppm. Rich, heavy, peaty dram ~ tarry notes, bit of chocolate, creosote, brown sugar. Very fruity and rich with the power of the peat and the tar to balance it. Matured in American and French oak casks.  Also, as this dram is cask strength the alcohol level is carried by the power of the flavours. A smokey length with salt and a hint of blueberries coming in from the side. 

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LAPHROAIG 10 yo CASK STRENGTH Batch 005 ~ Thanks to Laphroaig Distillery for giving us this dram to taste ~ 57.2% abv, this lovely, heavy, oily, peaty, fruity, sparkling dram carries the cask strength beautifully. Salty, seaweed with peat and rich warm fruity notes and flavours. A lovely rolling dram of Islay’s shores. A long smokey rich finish.

BOWMORE DARKEST 15 yo ~ 43% abv, the lowest alcohol by volume of the tasting ~ 12 years in Bourbon casks then 3 years in Oloroso sherry casks give this dram a sweet, raisins & chocolate taste balanced by the signature Bowmore smoke. This has a long finish and is a lighter but still robust dram. This is the material equivalent of  patterned velvet to the  brocade of the Laphroaig.

We tasted the drams without water, with water, and then, with chocolate ~ just delicious!

This is the first festival of it’s kind held in Graz. And it was very successful ~ we were even on the Austrian TV news!

There were chocolate makers, kilt makers, whisky makers, cigar makers ~ I liked this festival as it was pro active ~ there were many people here who produce their own product, not just selling something that others had made. Also, there were singers, dancers and pipers ~ 

One of the pipers is a lady called Romana Brunner.

Pipers at Graz

She is the Pipe Major of the Carinthian Pipes & Drums. Romana is a music teacher and in 2009 she travelled to Uist in the Western Isles,  and lived there for a year, being taught to play the pipes by Iain McDonald.  Iain McDonald and his brothers were good friends of the late A.S. Macneill, who helped found the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, Scotland ; ~  and A.S. Macneill is my uncle from Oransay ~ how cool is that?

Never mind seven degrees of separation between each of us in the world ~ in the Scottish/Piping/Whisky world it is reduced to TWO degrees of separation between us!

Manfred

Thank you to Manfred Wizsy of Islay Whisky Chapter for arranging for Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) to come to Austria. We had a wonderful time, met some wonderful people, heard some wonderful singing & music ~  and drank some wonderful whisky ~ we will return……

SLÁINTE! 

Me and the Austrian Team!

Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) and the Austrian Team

Best sign of the day!

Best sign of the day!

Schematic

Hand drawn schematic of whisky making process for guests at Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) tasting…..

Black Bottle New

Supporting the new Black Bottle

Haggis on the menu

Haggis on the menu for the festival

Musicians at Graz

The Austrian band who sounded Celtic…

Myself and Mario

Myself and Mario from The Pot Still, and Alexander.

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